The corner infield positions for the Ottawa Champions are going to have different looks in 2017.
The Can-Am League champs have signed 1B Ricky Oropesa and 3B Gustavo Pierre to man the positions as the ballclub gets set to defend its title this season. The two players were signed after projected first baseman Kenny Bryant called it a career and since last year’s first baseman Alexander Malleta and third baseman Donal Duarte won’t be back because they were in Ottawa on a one-year deal that was arranged with Cuba’s governing baseball organization.
Oropesa, 27, was a third-round draft pick of the San Francisco Giants in 2011 and played as high as Triple-A Sacramento. He split the 2016 season between Sacramento and Double-A Richmond where he hit a combined .214 with nine home runs and 33 RBI in 82 games.
The Los Angeles, CA, native had at-bats at Major League Spring Training in three different seasons with the Giants, batting .346 in 26 at-bats in 2013 and .400 in five at-bats in 2016.
Pierre, 25, was originally signed as a free agent by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009 and played as high as Double-A New Hampshire before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for outfielder John Mayberry Jr. in 2014.
The La Romana, Dominican Republic, native batted .227 with three home runs and 17 RBI in 69 games for Double-A Reading in 2015, his last full season with an organization.
In 2016, Pierre also appeared in eight games as a relief pitcher for the Blue Jays Single-A club in Lansing, where he went 1-1 with a 10.97 ERA in 10.2 innings pitched.
Bryant, 26, was the Champions team MVP in 2016 as a IB/OF/DH when he batted .261 and led the team with 11 home runs and 69 RBI.
The Goose Creek, SC, native was dominant in the 2016 playoffs for Ottawa, batting .421 with two homers and 10 RBI. He homered and drove in all three runs in the Champions 3-1 victory in the series clinching game five against the Rockland Boulders.
In five professional seasons split between the Frontier League, American Association, and Can-Am League, Bryant was a career .262 hitter with 34 home runs and 215 RBI in 392 games.
Ottawa Champions single game tickets are now on sale for all 2017 games, including the opening series that starts on May 18 with the Trois-Rivieres Aigles, the Cuba and Dominican Republic series and Canada Day.
Tickets for the 2017 Can-Am League/American Association All-Star Game scheduled for July 25 in Ottawa are also on sale. Tickets can be purchased online at www.ottawachampions.com, by phone at 613.745.2255, or at the RCGT Park box office.